M.RM.RM Cultural Foundation

 

70 M.R.C. Nagar Main Road
MRC Main Road
MRC Nagar
Chennai - 600 028
Tamil Nadu
Tel: +91 44 24622505 / 24614313
chettinadculture@yahoo.com

PROFILE
The M.RM.RM. Cultural Foundation is a non-profit organisation established in 2000 by Mrs. Visalakshi Ramaswamy with a view to initiate and support research and documentation of architecture, crafts, textiles and culture in and around the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

  1. To facilitate the revival of dying traditional crafts in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu and to make the craft products as useful contemporary everyday objects through design intervention thereby improving their marketability, and at the same time improving the economic status of the crafts people.

  2. To help traditional craft persons especially women adapt themselves to change and regain their place in the economic mainstream of the community and become self-sustaining producer groups with direct marketing ability.

  3. To organize workshops for craft communities with craft revival, design and marketing in mind, while at the same time, helping young members of the community finish their schooling.

  4. To encourage, support and sponsor students from design schools to research and document crafts and architecture and to facilitate interaction between students and local craft communities.

ACTIVITIES
Documentation:
  • A group of ten architects under the guidance of conservation architect Benny Kuriakose, documented the 100-year-old M.RM. House in Kanadukathan, Chettinad. The documentation is awaiting publication.

  • Athangudi, a small village in Chettinad, is famous for exclusive hand-made floor tiles. The foundation has documented the tile making process and is assisting in marketing them.

  • The Foundation in collaboration with the Dhan Foundation in Madurai is documenting the traditional process of weaving and dyeing of Sungudi sarees.

  • Students from the Shrishti school of Design in Bangalore were sponsored by the foundation to document the craft of Kottan weaving.

Training
  • The famous Chettinad egg-plaster or Madras plaster is a languishing craft but for a few septuagenarian masons who practice it. The Foundation identified "Ponniah Kothanar" a traditional mason and revived and documented this egg plastering technique, and is also trying to train 6 young masons in this craft.

  • Kottan Baskets: The traditional "Kottan" or Chettinad basket is almost extinct. The foundation has, with a trainer, revived the craft by teaching a group of ten women in Keeyalapatti village. The success of the first kottan project has resulted in 15 women being fully trained in kottan making. Their economic and artistic progress has evinced and interest among more affluent community to work in the next project. The willingness of the two communities to work together is a milestone in the work of the foundation in the village. Another group of five women have been trained in Sravayal, a neighboring village and are now part of the original group. Kottan products were awarded the UNESCO Seal of Excellence for handicrafts products in South Asia in November 2004.

Exhibitions
  • Life-style objects and textiles are exhibited in the M.RM. House in Kanadukathan. The textile collection contains a large number of traditional Chettinad sarees, the documentation of which is in progress. Work is being done to revive conventional designs. The foundation is also helping saree weavers in chettinad by designing the traditional chettinad cotton and silk sarees in contemporary colours and selling them under the 'Kandanghi' label.

FUTURE PLANS
  1. To establish a common facility center for the craftsperson's in Keeyalapatti village to enable women from neighboring villages to attend the training programs, workshops and train a new group of interested women in basketry.

  2. To publish the compiled documentation on the Kottan, the Chettinad Sarees, the Athangudi tiles and the Chettinad plaster and if possible the documentation of the M.RM. House.

  3. To research and document other crafts in and around the chettinad region and revive them if possible and necessary.

  4. Identify a suitable venue and establish a museum on the art, craft and lifestyle of Chettinad.

  5. Implementation of sanitary facilities, tree planting and training in general health and hygiene are some of the objectives of the foundation within the precincts of Keeyalapatti village.



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